As creatures with a higher level of cognition functioning, us humans are cursed by possessing both reason and emotion. Both of these traits are essential to experiencing life at its fullest, whether it be feeling the bitter pain of heart break or a fleeting moment of pure joy, emotion is a crucial part of the human condition. Likewise, the ability to reason is necessary to understand those emotions and to survive and prosper in general. These two sides of the same brain also play a role in our decision making; do we tend to act on impulse because it feels right or do we weigh the pros and cons of each option and choose based on which option seems more practical? For most people, the answer is both, depending on the situation and with varying results. Now imagine a post-apocalyptic world where your actions and decisions shape how it grows. Do we want to live in a world that is forged by the mind or the heart? The developers of Elex must have asked themselves the same question, as this is an element in how players can choose to progress.
Elex is an action RPG from the creators of the Gothic series. Players are thrust into an original post apocalyptic universe that blurs the lines between fantasy and science fiction. Here the players will encounter monstrous mutated creatures and interesting characters. This desolate world is a harsh environment, where action is never scarce due to the large number of denizens that would like nothing more than to send the player to an early grave. There are also several factions, groups of people joined together which formed their own cultures. In sharing this world with the various inhabitants, the player will have to make some difficult moral choices, and as this device has been used in other games we should all know by now no choice is without consequence. Head or heart, there is no right or wrong way to progress, though one will have to live with their decisions.
Elex takes place on the planet Magalan, which was a technologically advanced world up until a pesky meteor decided to wreck all of that. Those that survived the meteor have broken off into different factions and are now fighting for control of a very limited resource that came with the meteor called Elex. Elex is basically a miracle element, it can power advanced technology, it can bring about the use of magic, or it could be used to alter and create new life forms. It is an incredibly powerful substance, so much like the citizens of another planet where war is waged over liquid dinosaur bones Elex is at the center of conflict between the four factions.
The four main groups in Elex are the Berserkers in Edan, the Albs in Xacor, the Clerics in Ignadon, and the Outlaws in Tavar. Each of these groups lives at a very different stage of technological advances, and each use Elex for different purposes, the Berserkers use it to replace technology with magic, the Albs use it to grow stronger in body and mind at the cost of losing all emotions. The Outlaws live as anarchists, scavenging for what they can and pledging no loyalty to any god or government, believing that whatever they can take they are entitled to. The Clerics believe consuming the Elex is a sin, and instead use to power their mechs and other forms of technology. The player’s actions will influence their standing with each group, and the player will have to choose one group to align themselves with if they wish to reach the ending of the game. However, do to the open ended nature of Elex the player can play approximately 90 percent of the game with no alliance declared if they so choose.
The combat is visceral and action packed with a system that grants the player total control and allows them to read their enemies. The world of Magalan contains many different hostile environments, from snow-covered mountains to jungles with lush greenery to desolate volcanic regions. Every location that can be seen in the horizon can be traveled to, and as a nice perk the player is provided a jetpack to make travel easier and provide unique exploration opportunities. The advanced AI of the NPCs are always watching the player, and with each choice that defines the character someone is watching and it will have an impact in the game. With all the features listed, Elex appears to be a mix of many features of other games. Becoming part of a group makes Fallout New Vegas spring to mind, while the battle sequences look like Arkham or Shadow of Mordor. The every choice having a consequence echoes of Fable and the various Paragon/Renegade or Light/Dark side meters of BioWare games. My initial impression from Elex is optimistic as it seems like a combination of features from respectable games combined into a new appealing package, though we all know it is unwise to judge a game before the final product is out. Sometimes a combination of nice features doesn’t always work out in execution as theory might suggest. Slated for an August release this year, Elex will bring its unique action RPG experience to PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and then we shall be able to render a verdict if this interesting looking title lives up to its potential.